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Chapter Leader UpdateOct. 22, 2021

Snapshot

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Twelve UFT members wearing pink regalia to honor people with Breast cancer stand together, holding streamers and a sign reading "Mrs. D's Dream Team"

DREAM TEAMWORK: Members from PS 242 in Manhattan participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Central Park on Oct. 17 in support of their principal, Denise Gomez, who is fighting the disease. (Erica Berger) 

DREAM TEAMWORK: Members from PS 242 in Manhattan participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Central Park on Oct. 17 in support of their principal, Denise Gomez, who is fighting the disease. (Erica Berger) 

This Week's Focus

Next steps on teacher evaluation

Because of how long it took for the DOE to concede that tenured teachers rated Effective in the 2020-21 school year needed only two informal observations this year, the Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) process timeline had to be compressed. Today is the deadline for making school-level MOSL decisions. You should have formed the MOSL Committee with your administration. The chapter leader should select half the committee members and the principal should select the other half. Be mindful to include a variety of perspectives on the committee. See the MOSL Guide. Your school’s MOSL committee will decide on the measures of student learning for each grade and subject in your school. It will also choose the assessments, the target population and the measure. State assessments are NO longer required for any teacher’s measure of student learning, which gives the committee more latitude to choose measures that align with your school’s instructional program. In addition, individual measures are no longer required so consider using grade and school-wide measures.  All initial planning conferences (IPCs) should be completed by the end of October. Teachers cannot be observed until after their initial planning conference. See the IPC toolkit.

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Special Education Recovery Services

The UFT negotiated additional compensation for its members who provide Special Education Recovery Services. Teachers are to be paid per-session for providing Special Education Recovery Services to students with disabilities after school or on Saturday. The per-session postings were released in early October. Encourage special education teachers to apply for these positions at your school. Special education teachers and related service providers, when applicable, are also supposed to be paid up to two hours of per-session pay (or the applicable hourly rate) per student to prepare an individualized Special Education Recovery Service notice for each student with an IEP and then add the information to SESIS. This work should be conducted outside their regular work day and can be performed at school outside regular work hours or from home at the member’s discretion. If a principal or supervisor requires the member to complete the SERS notices during the school day, you can file an operational issues complaint on the member’s behalf. 

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Election Day PD clarification

In a consultation meeting two weeks ago, we asked the DOE to allow all members to attend Election Day PD remotely and the DOE agreed to that request. Then, a few days later, the DOE reversed its decision without warning. Principals had to notify their staff by last Friday, Oct. 15 if they were requiring them to be in person for professional development on Election Day. We continue to have to deal with this constant miscommunication from the DOE on every level and, in this case, it caused unnecessary confusion. If your members were not told by Oct. 15 to report in person, your Election Day PD will occur remotely. Teachers are not required to provide synchronous instruction on Election Day. Schools have been provided with funding to create and upload appropriate material for asynchronous instruction via digital classrooms: a total of 24 hours of per-session pay for each elementary school, 48 hours for each middle school and 64 hours for each high school. Schools may also offer per-session pay for content creation in non-core subject areas. These per-session activities must be posted at the school level in a manner consistent with the contract and regulations.


Landmark settlement in AFT’s student debt lawsuit

Tens of thousands of public sector workers, including public school educators, may finally see a reduction in or elimination of their crushing burden of student debt thanks to a landmark settlement announced Oct. 13 between the U.S. Department of Education and the American Federation of Teachers. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in July 2019 by the AFT and eight of its members — who said they were wrongly denied debt cancellation through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program — against then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Education Department. The lawsuit alleged mismanagement of the program. The settlement will give public servants who have been denied loan cancellation a case review and credit for years of past payments. The settlement also requires the government to contact borrowers who may be eligible for the program so they can apply for relief. The UFT has, over the past 2 1/2 years, taken steps to help its members, creating a Student Debt Relief Program while working with the AFT, its national affiliate, to file the lawsuit. 

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Thank you for helping to raise awareness about breast cancer

We want to thank all the chapter leaders who asked their members to come to school in pink on Oct. 13 and organized teams for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17. More than 100 schools had UFT teams, and collectively they raised more than $100,000 in online donations. These activities enabled our members to pay tribute to lost loved ones, honor survivors and celebrate their commitment to fighting for a cure to breast cancer. This devastating disease strikes one in seven women over the course of their lifetime. We also want to thank all of you who shared photos with us and on your own social media accounts. You can see our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer photos and our Go Pink photos on the UFT website. Read our story about the Making Strides walks.

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Training for new chapter leaders rescheduled for Nov. 14: UFT chapter leader training, Part 1, has been rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The registration form will be available soon. Chapter leaders may participate either online or in person at UFT headquarters. This all-day training session, the first in a four-part series, is designed to give newly elected chapter leaders the tools and resources to effectively lead their school chapters during this difficult year. Among the topics covered will be grievances and operational issues, school investigations and maintaining a healthy and safe school environment. 
  • Does the new UFT website search engine meet your needs?: We have completed a major upgrade of our website search engine to make sure it is providing the most useful information possible for members. Please check it out and let us know if it meets your needs. We can further fine-tune our search results so please tell us what you think of the new search engine and let us know if you still encounter problems finding information. Use this online form to share your feedback
  • Oct. 22 is the deadline to apply for a study sabbatical: Please remind your interested members that the deadline for eligible teachers to apply for study sabbaticals is tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 22. Members can read the current guidelines and eligibility requirements for the various sabbatical leaves in the DOE’s 2021-22 sabbatical memo.

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:

  • Tenure criteria for school secretaries
  • Social-emotional screening of all students

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You Should Know

Contract Empowerment & Enforcement

SBO deadline extended for the 2021-22 school year

The deadline to conduct SBO votes for this school year has been extended to Friday, Nov. 12. The SBO process can be used to modify contractual provisions including the date of evening parent-teacher conferences, teacher schedules, professional activity periods and the extended time for teachers and paraprofessionals. At this point in the school year, the DOE will not approve changes to the school day for students or any modification involving remote professional development, Other Professional Work or parent engagement. Modifying the extended time by creating blocks of time that are less than 30 minutes will also not be approved by the DOE. All SBO votes must be conducted through the secure Election Buddy online voting system. Speak to your UFT district representative if you are considering an SBO vote before the extended deadline or if you have any questions. For complete information on SBOs, see the SBO section of the UFT website.


Health & Safety

Know your health and safety rights

Over the past two school years, COVID policies and protocols have been our health and safety focus for good reason. To learn about the many other health and safety rights that UFT members have, please check out the Your Rights: Health and Safety section of the UFT website. There you’ll learn about how the union fights for members when they are faced with environmental and health hazards, how a UFT member can report a safety incident with the union and how to sign up for safety workshops and more.


Instruction

Members should check TEACH account for CTLE status

New York State requires teachers with professional New York State certification and paraprofessionals who hold a Level III Teaching Assistant Certificate to complete 100 hours of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) every five years. Encourage your members to check their TEACH Online Services account to see if they are registered with the State Education Department. Their profile page shows their current registration period expiration date, which is their deadline for completing 100 CTLE hours for that registration cycle. Every educator's deadline is different, so it's important everyone logs into their own TEACH account. Members must re-register on their TEACH accounts every five years and may do so as early as six months before the current cycle’s expiration date. Failure to do so may result in a fine for late registration; the state has so far waived this fee. Members should not send any proof of CTLE hours unless requested to do so by the state, but should be prepared to submit proof if they are audited by the Office of Teaching Initiatives. Certificate holders may be audited any time during the three years following any registration cycle. Certificate holders should then continue collecting CTLE hours for their next CTLE five-year period. If members have questions, tell them to read this UFT Q&A or call a UFT certification specialist at 212-331-6311.

File an ELL complaint when issues arise

Do you know of English language learners who have not been formally identified or who are not receiving the services owed to them? If the answer is “yes,” please immediately submit the UFT’s ELL complaint form designed for educators, parents and other concerned individuals to relay their concerns to the union. Tell us why you think students are not receiving required educational services or parents’ rights are being undermined, especially those required under Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154. We also want to know if your school is failing to provide educators with appropriate and sufficient professional development to help English language learners.

Dial-A-Teacher is in full swing

We look to chapter leaders to get the message out to members that homework help is available to students through Dial-A-Teacher, which provides classroom teachers who assist with homework questions. Parents and students in need of help with homework can call Dial-A-Teacher at 212-777-3380, Mondays through Thursdays, from 4 to 7 p.m., during the school year. Dial-A-Teacher can also assist parents with questions and give advice on how they can help their child at home. The staff speaks 10 languages: Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog. See more information about Dial-A-Teacher on the UFT website.


Political Action

Early voting begins on Saturday, Oct. 23

The in-person early voting period for the Nov. 2 general election runs from Saturday, Oct. 23, to Sunday, Oct. 31. Members who live in New York City can use this tool to find their early voting and Election Day polling sites. Members who live in other parts of the state can use the Board of Elections' online portal to find their location for early voting and Election Day voting. Check our list of UFT-endorsed candidates in New York City. See our story about the upcoming Nov. 2 elections on the website.

Five state ballot proposals on November ballot

When you receive your ballot, in addition to voting for local representatives, you may vote Yes or No on five statewide ballot proposals. While the UFT has not taken a position on the proposals, we want you to make an informed choice. Learn more about these five statewide ballot proposals.


Salary & Personnel

Lump-sum payments head to members returning from leave

In-service Q bank members who were on an APPROVED leave for any of the lump-sum pay dates (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020) and remain eligible and on payroll on Oct. 1 of this year should receive a payment in their Oct. 29 paycheck. In-service H bank members who were on an approved leave for any of the lump-sum pay dates (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020) and remain eligible and on payroll on Oct. 1 of this year should receive a payment in their Oct. 29 paycheck. Q bank retirees who were on an approved leave for any of the lump-sum pay dates (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020) should receive a payment in mid-November (the specific date has yet to be determined). H bank retirees who were on an approved leave for any of the lump-sum pay dates (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020) should receive a payment on a supplement check dated Oct. 28.


Everything Else

Last chance to register for Teacher Union Day

Teacher Union Day is fast approaching. Don’t be left out. Join us for the virtual celebration on Sunday, Nov. 7, as we pay tribute to 89 school chapter leaders who will receive Ely Trachtenberg Awards for building strong and vibrant UFT chapters. Help us honor Ellie Engler, a former UFT staff director, who will receive the Charles Cogen Award, the event’s highest honor, for her lifelong advocacy for safe and healthy schools and for her pivotal role protecting UFT members during the pandemic. Show your appreciation for the UFT’s Health and Safety Department, which is this year’s recipient of the Backer/Scheintaub Award. See all the 2021 honorees. In-person registration for honorees and their guests has closed. All other UFT members are invited to join virtually.

Register now

Sign up your middle school students for anti-bullying conference

Tell your middle school colleagues it’s time for the UFT Middle School Division’s virtual anti-bullying conference. This year, on Thursday, Oct. 28, we are offering a terrific panel of guest speakers from the New York City Police Department, the New York Jets, the New York Liberty, the city Department of Education and the UFT's BRAVE program. We’ll give students plenty of information about how they can fight bullying in their schools and help their communities be safer learning environments for everyone. Here’s the registration link to share with your members.

UFT Shanker Scholarship applications now available

Make sure high school seniors in your school apply for a $5,000 Albert Shanker college scholarship. The application deadline is Jan.15, 2022. Each year, the UFT awards $1 million in scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible New York City public high school seniors through the Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund. Please reach out to your school’s college advisers and school counselors to make sure that eligible seniors apply for these scholarships. If you do not work in a high school, please reach out to family, friends and community members who may qualify for this award. To receive a $5,000 scholarship from the fund, those selected must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. You can get more information on the scholarship and application materials on the UFT website.


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